Skywatch Friday… Morning breaks

I could hear a buzz near my head, but wasnt sure if i was dreaming or if it was for real.. It was getting quite annoying and after a few seconds, i came awake only to realise it was my Alarm ringing, rather buzzing.. i had put my phone in Vibrate mode and hence this kind of a wake up alarm!! The time blinked 5.45am… Damn, that was early, that too on Saturday… 
But i had a reason for wanting to rise that early! I wanted to catch a glimpse of the sunrise above the ocean… I was in Mahabalipuram, probably the 1st time i had decided to get away for the weekend with friends… 
Every morning
Is the birth
Of something new
 
As the sun rises
a new day 
is born
Giving us 
hopes
dreams and 
wishes to be fulfilled.. 
The morning sun
in all its glory
guides our lives
Quickly made a dash for the beach few 100 yards from our room and soaked in the calm serene almost stillness in the air.. At a distance, i could see the golden glow slowly creep into the sky amidst a few dark clouds… What a sight that was…. 

 The silver shimmering from the ocean shone so bright in that morning sky, it was a sight to be experienced and something that words dont do justice!! I was alone on that stretch of the beach, and felt so at peace with the world, and with myself… 
As the year draws to an end, this will be the last Skywatch post for 2011…. I wish you all a Very Happy New Year!!! Live it up, enjoy yourself and go for it!!
For more beautiful skies, please visit Skywatch Friday

My Grandfather’s stick -Children’s book from Tulika

My Grandfather’S Stick [Tamil: Yenn Thathavin Oonrukole]

Children have such a vivid imagination that they leave us stumped most times. Show them a pencil and they will show you atleast 5 different uses to it besides writing on a paper. Such is their power of imagination. In this book My Grandfather’s stick”[published by Tulika], the author takes us on a journey where the little girl makes use of the stick for things beyond helping a person walk.

One moment, she transforms into a horse rider, flying off into air on the stick[that has become her horse] .. And then, she is off camping in the wild with the stick holding up her tent while she gazes at the stars in the night sky. 

Zip zap zoom!! the stick is now a Magic wand and she is weaving magic all around… or maybe the stick will grow a pair of wings to help her fly high above the sky all the way to the moon.

Oh wait, she is not done yet! She uses the stick as a magical pencil to draw in air- a beautiful house, slide to play in, an elephant or a cycle, flowers, birds, they all come alive through the stick. When she is feeling playful, the stick becomes the line that she has just crossed on the athletic field to become the Champion!! 🙂

Now, how about a ride in the river, lets use the stick as the oar to move the boat along.. Row row row the boat…gently down the stream… 

Wonder what next….

She dreams the stick becomes a tall finger so she can reach for the star, maybe even touch it..oh wow! But finally, when her grandfather uses the stick to help him walk, she is the happiest… Such simple pleasures of joy derived. 

 

The next time you see a child playing with a stick or a box, pretending it was something else, dont interrupt them. Let them enjoy their dream, ask them to share their dreams with you… You never know, they might give you ideas! 😀 

 

 

 

Such simple words written in both English and Tamil, the book is perfect for those who are just beginning their reading journey.. And for parents who wish to teach their child both English & tamil… Nandini Nayar weaves magic through words yet again… 🙂

Story- Nandini Nayar
Age – 3+
Pictures- Kshitiz Sharma
Translation- Malarvizhi
Published- Tulika PublishersLanguage- English/TamilFormat- Paperback
Price: Rs85

The review was also posted on BookRack….

Skywatch Friday… History amidst nature

This was a journey we had embarked on nearly a year ago, but for some strange reason i was reminded of it today! And so, decided to unearth the photograph and share it as part of the Skywatch post!! 
We had just crossed Vandavasi when the friend who was also the guide told us we need to do a U turn and go into the village to reach our destination. We were headed towards Seeyamangalam, part of the Thellar Taluk in  Tiruvannamalai District. There were a few small houses and we spotted a crowd in front of a house. As we drove by, we noticed there had been a death, hence the crowd. Within a few meters, we spotted the temple on our left, and decided to explore the premises. 
Situated at 80kms from Chennai, Seeyamangalam is home to Stambeshwarar Temple [an avatar of Lord Shiva], After the main temple was constructed, the rulers who came in later [Chola and Vijayanagara rulers] added a few extensions- the mandapam and Gopuram. 



The temple was shut, and when we investigated, we discovered the temple would be open only after the funeral was done with[the death we saw down the road]… Knowing we had nearly an hour, we took a trip to another temple nearby –Thirumalpadi… 

We returned once the priest gave us the Green signal and spent some time wandering the interiors of the temple in Seeyamangalam. On one of the pillars inside, we were shown Shiva in the Ananda Thandava posture, which is one of the early interpretations. On the other side was a carving of Shiva Parvathi on Rishaba[bull]. The priest told us we were free to take photographs inside… 

A few steps from the main temple is a small temple atop
a rock decidated to Lord Muruga. There were steps carved out of the
rock, going 3/4th of the way. We decided to give it a pass after attempting the 1st few steps… The temple premises was huge, opening out to empty land and the blue skies.

After an hour or so, as we walked towards the car, we wondered what other stories were hidden within these walls. 

For more beautiful skies, visit Skywatch..

5 Senses, Chennai

We walked in towards the lift in this new swanky restaurant 5 Senses on Khader nawaz khan road… A we entered the roof top, we were pleasantly surprised at the spacious interiors and exterior seating and of course the decor. The walls had posters from Hollywood classics. As i admired them, the waiter brought what looked like a huge diary, but which was actually their menu card, rather quite a large menu book. Flipped through the pages, tried to make sense of all that was written under each category and finally gave up.. but the information about the various towns, cuisines present was very interesting.. Wish they gave us a book to take home to read in leisure!!
We ordered a Tapas, that had about 5 little starters, 3 veg and 2 non veg.. They were each sinful and packed with flavour. And then for soup, i ordered a Broccoli soup, which the waiter served in a rather unique fashion. The bowl came with a little cake in the center around which green thick soup was poured. The center was infact a broccoli mouse cake. It was good.. very light!! A friend ordered Mushroom soup that was served with a long slice of toasted bread on a wooden platter, quite funky… The others passed up on soup and went ahead with the main course. 
Between us, we ordered a Chicken & Basil pizza[ Senor P added every possible seasoning on it and we managed to get a clear shot of that, but the whole pizza looked divine and the crunchy basil on top was delicious], a chicken salad, I ordered a dish that was an assortment of smoked vegetables, and finally there was the Mousakka… If one could satiate their hunger with just the appearance of the dishes, we would be full to our ears,  then this is where you should head… however, if you are a group of people and try to share the dish, you might feel the portions are too little… The Restaurant prides itself in being a Fine Dining, and so prices are high and portions are lesser than what you are normally used to…
Food did taste good, but apart from the pizza, the portions were fairly ok… Between us, we finished one and a half bottles of wine as well. And did order up a few Apple martinis that another friend had recommended…

Oh, and we werent done yet… We wanted to go all the way and have ourselves one hearty meal. For dessert, we just stuck to Chocolate Canaloni, that was served on a long white plate with a few slices of orange on one side, and two rolls, one hazelnut flavoured and other dark chocolate with rich cholocate filling on the inside.. It was to die for… divine!!  

Good conversation, amazing company and good food, all that made the evening quite a memorable one!We were on a high and so the night will remain a fun experience…

Ambiance 9/10
Food 7/10
Service 9/10
Price 6/10
Address:    
Oyster, No. 9, Khader Nawaz Khan Road, Nungambakkam , Chennai -34
Just after Casa Picola… 
Phone: 044 -30062010, 30062020, 30062030

The Saiyuki Trio

It was one of those emails listing down the events of the day across Chennai. I always skim through them, and delete the mail. But last evening, for no reason, the words “Saiyuki Trio” caught my attention. I read on to discover it was a concert to be held at Alliance Francaise at 7pm and it was open to all. The thought then faded away as i got busy with work and other activities. Around 6.45 i suddenly remembered “Saiyuki Trio”, and made a dash to get to the venue. Since it was short walk from home i wasnt too worried!! 
But it was the very evening when Madam Chief Minister, Jayalalitha had decided to grace a Christmas Celebration happening near home. And the streets looked like the entire city had been kicked out of their homes, there were people everywhere, along the bridge, on the street, up and down the staircases and just about everywhere. Resembled an army of ants crawling across a piece of cake, trying to sneak in a nibble.
So, i was there at the Edouard Michelin Auditorium on the top floor, only to hear the MC announce “we are running a bit behind schedule as many are stuck across town due to unavoidable circumstances [read as JJ’s visit across town]…  So, i sat there and waited .. waited… and finally, 7.20pm the trio came onto the stage set for them.
[L to R]Prabhu Edouard, Nguyen le and Meiko Miyazaki… 
[Image courtesy: nguyen-le.com]

It was one & half hours of beautiful  soulful music.. Each piece was unique, and it was a different kind of an experience… There was a piece they performed called “Sangamam” [which literally translates to Confluence, coming together] that had been composed by Prabhu….

Sangam.. Sangeetham..Sabdam..Santhosham..
Sangam… Ananda Sangam… [was how the verse went]
The Trio from various corners of the world have come together, and the music that was born out of their confluence was truly divine….. 
The Trio were- 
Mieko Miyazaki from Japan who played the Koto, a large String instrument with such ease. She has been playing this since the age of 9 and has won many accolades back in Japan… A petite lady, she also had a voice that had us all mesmerised…. 
Nguyen Le, born in Paris to Vietnamese parents played the Guitar… He is renowned for the album Purple that was released celebrating Jimi Hendrix’s music…
and finally, our very own Prabhu Edouard who hails from Trichy, but has made France his home [been there since 1975] who plays the Tabla among other similar instruments.. He also plays with Hindustani flutist Hariprasad Chaurasia. He had the audience zapped, chanting, singing, clapping and ofcourse laughing away with his quirky comments…
 The Koto [Japanese instrument] 
[Image Courtesy: http://www.dimensionsguide.com]

 There was this one piece composed by Mieko which she narrated as a story…

“Many many years ago, there was only One God.. he then created two gods- a man god Isimagi, and a woman Isimani…. 
One day the husband looked at his wife and asked her “My Darling, how is your body?”
She replied “My darling, my body is good, but i feel something missing”
He then told her “My darling, but i have something too much in my body, i will give you some of it to make that something missing go away” 
[now, we all knew what she was talking about and there were a few surprised gasps and chuckles among the audience….. ]
And then Mieko blushed and told us how “The husband gave his wife some of the too much that he had and then she made many babies, who are believed to be the islands of Japan”
During the course of the song, there was a section where Prabhu and Mieko belted out words and sounds that described the scene going on between the husband and wife…. It was amazing at how they were able to bring out such strong feelings through simple words and chants….
Prabhu then took the mic, and made light of the performance that had just happened saying He and Meiko were just artists, their relationshop was purely professional and that after the show he would go home to his wife and she to a different hotel… hahah..fun moments during the concert……..

Here is one of the pieces they performed- Sweet Ganesha….


                                             
You can listen to some pieces here and some of their other performances here

The Edouard Michelin Auditorium is a fairly small one, but i have seen it go through transformation over the years, now there is Air conditioning, nice plush seats have replaced plastic chairs and the ramp outside replaced with stairs, a nice door and an overall good feel. Oh, they have also installed an Elevator…   

Madras Kafe, Nungambakkam

The skies were having a party, and it was pouring non stop since morning. I stood in the balcony longing for a hot plate of Bhajji and coffee when the phone rang. It was my friend S..

S: Hello, Madras Kafe polama?
Me: Ennadu, enga irukku? [what? where is it?]

S: Come to Ispahani center nungambakkam and you will see it in the basement…
M: Ohh ok ok.. that new place near the Yoga place…. nice… give me half hour… and off i went battling the pouring rain towards Ispahani Center….

The Madras Kafe was located in the basement, near 136.1 yoga/fitness center. Brought back memories of days when we used to work out at Gymmania[that was once where 136.1 is today]. Going down the stairs, my eyes scanned the center to see if any of the old shops/cafes were still around. Noticed that Sweet chariot was gone.. sigh…. 
This cafe is a small place, no frills or fancy decor, literally. there were 3 walls, one of which i noticed was made entirely of thermocol [styrofoam], with images of drinks and food items stuck on them with colorful pins. On one side were small picket fences painted in white. 
My friend was already there, she had ordered a plate of Podi idli, which was a plate of mini idlies covered in milagai podi.. It was quite tasty and the idli was of the right texture [ i dont like idlies too much, leave alone hot idlies or ones that are grainy].. Apart from that, she had ordered a Lime chilly drink for herself, while i chose a Berry cooler.. The lime chilly was not spicy enough, and she wanted them to add more zing to it. My berry cooler was good, divine actually… I could taste strawberries in them, and the sugar was less, which made it yumm!
The next dishes we ordered were – a plate of Gumma kuthu idli [ sauted onion and tomatoes in which the idlies had been tossed around], and a plate of Fried Podi idlies [ same as podi idli, but fried, crisp on the outside and soft inside] … 
 Chatted with the man who served us the food and brought our check. Somasundaram, he owns the place. Seemed like someone totally new to the cafe world, but yet was flagging off an idea his son, who works at a leading IT company had… Very humble, he told us in a soft voice ” please do tell your friends about the place and if you are on Facebook, do like our page please”. 

Overall feel good kinda place… Simple, neat and wallet friendly.

Ambiance- 7/10 – simple and neat
Food – 8/10 [shd do a 2nd visit to sample different items on the menu]
Price- 8/10 [very very reasonably priced, noticed it attracts lot of college, young crowd]
Space- can seat a max of 10 by the looks of it… 
Overall -8/10
Address:
Madras Kafe
Basement, Ispahani Center
Uthamar Gandhi Salai
Nungambakkam
Chennai-34

Skywatch Friday… Fiery Skies

 
I walked out of the room towards the beach, there was nothing on my mind and all i wanted was to spend some time in the company of Me! It was December 5th or 6th, and we were on a mini holiday at Mahabalipuram. 3 friends who just wanted to get away from the city, and spend some time along the ocean. The evening sky was beautiful, i was glad to have brought my camera along. Infact earlier when i was getting out of the room, i recall going back to pick up my camera. “Just in case” i told myself.
The cool sand brushed against my feet as i walked along the shore, with the occasional wave gliding over my toes. The evening sun had just gone down for the day, leaving behind a trail of fiery red in the sky. I wondered what the Sun must look like now, and wondered who or where it was hovering about at that point of time.
My mind wandered to the last time i was at Mahabalipuram. It was too long is all i could remember. This 7th century port city that was once part of the Pallava Dynasty is just about 60kms from Chennai, and a treasure cover of history and heritage sights.  There is the Shore temple, the Tiger Caves, Arjuna’s penance, Five Rathas, Butter Ball and so much more scattered across a few kilometers that it would take a day to explore them all. I promised myself i would come back and spend some time around these sites and with that settled down near the edge of the water to soak in the surroundings… 

For more beautiful skies, visit Skywatch Friday

Be a friend….

    If you know someone who’s depressed please resolve never to ask them why. Depression isn’t a straightforward response to a bad situation, depression just is, like the weather. Try to understand the blackness, lethargy, hopelessness and loneliness they’re going through. Be there for them when they come through the other side. It’s hard to be a friend to someone who’s depressed, but it is one of the kindest, noblest and best things you will ever do.”


    ~ Stephen Fry